Chris Antemann: Forbidden Fruit

Museum of Arts and Design, New York, until 5 February 2017

November 2016

In 2011, the American ceramicist Chris Antemann was invited by Meissen, the German porcelain manufacturer, to participate in its art studio programme. For a whole year, she worked closely with Meissen's master artisans to create unique pieces and a series of limited editions that reinterpret Meissen's figurative tradition. An installation of her 21 porcelain sculptures resulting from the collaboration is on view at the Museum of Arts and Design in New York.

Antemann's delicately painted sculptures feature scantily clad male and female figures with coquettish expressions in decadent scenes that are a contemporary reinvention of 18th-century banqueting. Whilst the settings recall the Rococo style of François Boucher and Jean-Antoine Watteau, the erotic seduction brings to mind the paintings by American artist John Currin.

Based in Oregon, Antemann has a MFA in ceramics from the University of Minnesota. The works in her 'Forbidden Fruit' exhibition are themed around the Garden of Eden. Using this as a metaphor, Antemann  has made 'Love Temple' (2013), inspired by Meissen's model of Johann Joachim Kändler’s monumental 1750 piece bearing the same title, in which her figures, ornamentation and flowers are integrated.

The playfulness is firmly expressed in 'Forbidden Fruit Dinner Party' (2013), in which female diners sitting on the tabletop pick at fruit whilst gazing at their male counterparts. Antemann adds social satire and sexuality into her works, turning the idyllic universe of Meissen's figurines into something more lascivious.

Completing the installation is a nine-light porcelain 'Lemon Chandelier' (2013), evocative of the tradition of palatial porcelain rooms. Lemons dangle like pendants from the branches of the chandelier, which has a pair of lovers in its centre.

Meissen launched its art studio programme in 2010 and so far 30 artists have participated. While most apply to Meissen, the company also invites certain artists, such as Antemann, themselves. They are provided with specially equipped studios, work resources and input from expert craftworkers to enable them to realise their ideas.

All images: Chris Antemann in collaboration with MEISSEN, Courtesy of MEISSEN.